Tuesday 26 September 2017 10:13:42 AM

Mainstay DRP Cut First Sod For New Centre In Downpatrick
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Mainstay DRP, a charity that provides services to people with learning disabilities and autism in the Downpatrick area, is well on the way to creating a state-of-the-art £3.5 million facility on the Killough Road in the town.

Mainstay’s fundraising team still need £100,000 to reach the target in order to secure the money to complete Cumulus Heights.  In addition, fundraising will continue to provide valuable income in order to develop new services for the changing needs of  of the local area.

First Sod: At the cutting of the first sod were Owen Gorman, director, Joy McBride, fundraiser, Gordon Kelly, Mainstay DRP client, Mary McCargo, Director, and Dr Paddy  Moore, chairman with Dermot Robinson, client, centre.

First Sod: At the cutting of the first sod were Owen Gorman, director, Joy McBride, fundraiser, Gordon Kelly, Mainstay DRP client, Mary McCargo, Director, and Dr Paddy Moore, chairman with Dermot Robinson, client, centre.

The construction of Cumulus Heights on the 2.8 acres site is a major challenge. The 2300 square meter facility is to be built in twelve months. It is equivalent to 23 standard three bedroomed houses. The total cost approximately for this work will be £3.5 million.

This new project will provide two residential homes, day care services, two respite services and a training and administrative centre.

New state-of-the-art centre on its way for Mainstay DRP: pictured committee members, staff, local clergy, politicians and Council staff.

New state-of-the-art centre on its way for Mainstay DRP: pictured committee members, staff, local clergy, politicians and Council staff.

A group of concerned parents and carers of people with a learning disability came together in 1989 with one common goal… to create a local service providing the high quality care and support their loved ones required close to their family homes.

The result was the formation of a charity the following year, then called Downe Residential Project,  which also recognised the need for the families and carers of those living with a learning disability to avail of support and assistance in the area.

Created as a direct response to the lack of necessary services available for people with severe learning disabilities, the charity began by providing residential care in Downpatrick.

Helen Thompson, Mainstay DRP Chief Executive, said: “The project, now called Mainstay DRP, has expanded and developed over the years adapting the type of care offered to clients as their individual needs change.

“Respite care, supported housing, day-care services and vocational training are all provided alongside the original residential care facility. Most recently, we have found that people with learning disabilities from outside the Down district are seeking to avail of their exceptional standard of quality care and support services. Today, Mainstay DRP is one of the largest employers in the Downpatrick area providing jobs to 160 people.

Delighted with the progresss: Mainstay DRP staff and committee members pictured with Canon Sean Rogan and the Rev David Steers.

Delighted with the progresss: Mainstay DRP staff and committee members pictured with Canon Sean Rogan and the Rev David Steers.

“The £3.5 million development located in Downpatrick began construction on 24 March 2014, and will not only develop valuable services for people with a learning disability and their families, but will also provide a much needed boost to the local economy.  This will be the culmination of the relentless fundraising Mainstay have undertook over the past several years.

“These services are critical for many local families who are often struggling to balance the challenges of everyday life alongside those that come along with supporting a disabled loved one. This new development will provide a lifeline to people and their families, in particular those who are growing older.”

Mrs Taylor added: “This situation continues to be compounded by a learning disabled population that is growing in size and complexity year on year, due to advances in medical intervention and other social factors.  This population continue to experience social exclusion, and it is our duty to be responsive, and to care enough to want what is best for them.”

The economic benefits of this construction are both long term and short term. Additional long term jobs will include social care, administration and training.  At present Mainstay employs 160 people from throughout the Down District, and this will increase further when the new development opens.

In addition, in the short term  a build of this size will bring work opportunities for local builders and trades people, one of the main groups feeling the effects of the economic downturn.

An artists view of Cumulus Heights.

An artist’s view of Cumulus Heights.

Mrs Taylor added: “Helping us meet the building challenge is a technical team consisting of Hamilton Architects who manage the technical team and have produced for us a classical modern design. Shipway Quantity Surveyors will keep an eye on the construction costs while RPS Civil and Structural engineers will be doing the difficult calculations that turn the architects vision into reality. Bennett Robertson will be  looking after the mechanical and electrical services.

“There will be photovoltaic panels on the roof to produce green electricity and a fascinating street lighting scheme will also be in place. And, the latest addition to our team, our local home grown builders, H J O’Boyle will be hands on doing the construction. Declan McCormick and his team at O’Boyles have promised us a superior quality job in just 12 months.

“But – the BIG BIG question – what about the money?

“Where do we get £3.5 Million? The money comes from several sources, such as fundraising by our staff, local church groups and teams of local people who are of prime importance and absolutely critical to the success of the project.  They always show real dedication and  commitment and we thank them greatly for this.

“Grants will also come from charitable donor trusts which makes up a significant part of our funds. And Danske Bank  have been hugely supportive, guiding us through the complexities required to raise and manage a very significant commercial loan.

“This community fundraising and hard work will continue for the next fifteen years to pay back the loans.”

Cumulus Heights in Downpatrick.

Cumulus Heights in Downpatrick.